Trumpeters have an unprecedented array of instruments that enable them
to meet today's exacting performance demands (see Fig. 3.1). In fact,
trumpets are now found pitched in the keys of every scale note of a full
octave above the traditional Bb instrument. These fall into two basic
categories: Bb and C trumpets for general use, and higher trumpets
pitched in D, Eb, E, F, G, piccolo BC/A, and C for orchestral and solo
literature demanding a high tessitura.
fair to ask why so many trumpets are necessary. The answer can best
be illustrated through an example. While a strong player might possibly
able to sustain the high range called for in Bach's B Minor Mass on a Eb
that part of the
harmonic series where the partials fall fairly close together would be
used. By changing to a piccolo trumpet in A, the same notes may be
played lower on the harmonic series where the partials are more widely
separated. This facilitates the "picking out" of entrance
notes and improves accuracy. Also, the undue effort required to maintain
the high tessitura on the larger instrument would prove severely
fatiguing. A smaller, lighter trumpet brings such parts more under the
from the question of accuracy, the larger tone of the Bb, while well
suited to the works of later composers, would be unsuitable for the
light balances required in Bach's orchestration. The basic idea is to
provide the trumpeter with a set of specialized instruments to enable
him to adapt more readily to the diverse repertoire performed by today's
in higher keys are not a recent development. Teste, solo trumpeter
of the Paris Opera, performed Bach's Magnificat on a G trumpet as early
1885, and such instruments
have been available since that time. During the last
however, high trumpets have undergone extensive research in the quest
for improved instruments to cope with the mounting demands placed on
modern orchestral trumpeters.
factors have combined to create these pressures. The trend toward
longer orchestral seasons, an oversupply of well-trained players, and
the expectation by conductors and audiences of the note perfect accuracy
in live performances that they are accustomed to on recordings have all
had their effect. Most important, however, is that principal trumpeters
are now regularly expected to perform the demanding Baroque literature
with the flawless skill that was previously reserved for exceptional
players and Baroque specialists.
important influence is the emergence of the trumpet as a major solo
instrument. Just as Jean-Pierre
Rampal popularized the flute, and Dennis Brain the horn, Maurice Andre
has brought the trumpet into a new era of solo recordings and
international concert appearances. Since the greater part of the solo
literature comes from the Baroque and Classical periods, the need for
more responsive and in-tune high trumpets has grown significantly.
|THE Bb AND C
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By the end of the 19th century
the modern Bb trumpet had replaced the longer F trumpet as the standard
orchestral instrument. While the passing of the old F trumpet timbre was
lamented by many(1),
trumpeters were confronted
with parts of increasing
difficulty from composers such as Strauss and Mahler, and the new
instrument proved more tractable in meeting these demands. The
popularity of the Bb cornet also contributed to the change, since many
orchestral players also played the cornet and were accustomed to the
technical advantages of an Instrument in Bb. Trumpets in C also
made their appearance about this time and became particularly well
established in France and Austria.
The present widespread acceptance
of the C trumpet in orchestras can be
to the appointment in 1920 of Georges Mager as principal trumpet
Boston Symphony. A
first prize winner at the Paris Conservatory and one of this
greatest players, Mager used the C trumpet as his primary instrument
during his 30-year tenure in Boston. He led a section of C trumpets
(unknown in orchestras of the time) and established the pattern that has
become standard in American orchestras today.
Among the first major figures
beyond Boston to adopt the C trumpet was William Vacchiano, solo trumpet
of the New York Philharmonic, 1934 - 1973. The worldwide influence
of American brass playing, particularly that of Adolph Herseth,
principal trumpet of the Chicago Symphony(2),
is responsible for the present trend toward the C trumpet. (The use of C
trumpets in France and Austria has continued independent of this
The trend is not universal,
however. British trumpeters following in the great tradition of Ernest
Hall, George Eskdale and Harold Jackson have maintained their allegiance
to the Bb, preferring its rounder tone and blending qualities. The Bb
has to some extent retained its position in German and Eastern European
orchestras as well.
for example, the discussion Of the horn and trumpet by Ralph Vaughan
Williams in The Making of Music (Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University
Press, 1955), p. 29.
2. Adolph Herseth is a former student of Georges Mager.
In bands, the Bb remains the
primary instrument due to its fuller timbre and greater ability to blend
within an ensemble of wind instruments. The literature
band is almost entirely written for the Bb instrument and would have to
be transposed if C trumpets were used. Another area in which the C
trumpet has failed to gain a foothold is in the jazz and studio fields.
The C trumpet's timbre and playing characteristics do not seem to be
particularly adaptable to the musical requirements of jazz performers.
Given the trend toward C trumpets in
orchestral playing, it is important to emphasize that trumpeters are in
agreement that students should begin and play through their formative
years on the Bb instrument. In this way a good tonal concept and tone
production will be firmly established.
It would be well to consider what specific
advantages the C trumpet has to offer the orchestral player. The primary
factor underlying the trend to C trumpets is related to the nature of
orchestral playing with its long periods of rest. The response of the C
seems to be better suited to making "cold" entrances than the
Bb, and it provides a greater feeling of security and control.
This feeling is augmented by its being in the same key as the string
section. The C also seems to be more compatible with the range in which
the first trumpet plays and the extreme dynamic contrasts required. The
timbre of the C carries well, and this allows the player to project the
sound with slightly less effort than that required by the Bb.
C trumpets are now available with a number
of leadpipe and bell combinations and these have contributed to an
improved instrument. American orchestral players generally prefer a
large bore C, and a medium-large Bb.
The parallel use of Bb and C trumpets is
likely to continue indefinitely. By having two primary instruments
available, the player is afforded maximum flexibility in adapting to the
requirements of the part to be performed. There has been superb
orchestral playing on the Bb trumpet as well as the C. How to utilize
these instruments to best advantage ultimately remains a matter of
THE D TRUMPET
The high trumpet in D was developed in the
late 19th century in response to
enthusiasm of the time for the choral works of Each and Handel. It was
often referred to as a "Each trumpet," but this name is now
discouraged to avoid confusion with the natural trumpet, which has
enjoyed a revival in recent years. (The fundamental of the natural
trumpet in D is an octave below the valve trumpet.) The D trumpet
offered an excellent solution to the problem of performing the difficult
parts in Bach's B Minor Mass, Handel's Messiah, and other Baroque works.
Modern composers, such as Ravel and Stravinsky, have also utilized the
instrument for colorful high-range effects in some of their
At present there are three types of D
trumpet available: a medium-bore and bell model suitable as a Baroque
instrument; a large-bore which can be used in place of the Bb or C in
regular orchestral passages; and the D-Eb combination (actually an Eb
trumpet provided with a set of longer D slides).
Students are sometimes under the
impression that the higher trumpets provide "instant range",
as in the flute-piccolo relationship. Actually, trumpeters usually only
add a note or two above what can be played on their regular instrument.
What can be gained is better control and consistency in performing
In recent years, the D trumpet has largely
been replaced by the piccolo Bb/A trumpet. The smaller instrument has
brought the Baroque literature within the capabilities of a greater
number of performers. While it offers additional security, the inherent
small bore and bell of the piccolo results in a timbre which is thin in
comparison to the D trumpet, and is far removed from the tone of the
natural trumpet of Bach's
time. The D trumpet is a more effective substitute for the natural
trumpet, combining the advantages of a valve instrument and a tone
quality that is closer to the Baroque ideal.
THE Eb TRUMPET
Eb trumpets are used today
primarily in the performance of the Haydn and Hummel concertos, and
occasionally for orchestral passages. This raises an additional aspect
of the use of high trumpets which is unrelated to playing register: some
passages lie better on one instrument than another. For example, the
above concertos can be played fluently on the Bb; however, they are more
oriented to the Eb which places the player in the key of C. Many
trumpeters feel that this facilitates fingering (especially on trills)
and accuracy. Others find that the use of an Eb trumpet creates a new
set of problems, particularly intonation and tone quality, and prefer to
remain with the Bb. There have been equally fine performances using
The principle of substituting one
trumpet for another applies to the entire range of trumpets and affords
the performer a choice in matching the instrument to the part:
TRUMPETS IN E, F, AND G
The E trumpet was developed
specially for players who wish to perform the Hummel trumpet concerto in
its original key of E major. At present, few instruments are available.
A custom model is made by Blackburn, and another is part of the Schilke
bell-tuned G-F-E combination, which consists of a G trumpet with
interchangeable bells and valve slides for G, F, and E. Bell tuning is a
recent development which allows different bells to be used on the same
instrument. Many players feel this option offers improved playing
F trumpets were originally
constructed for the difficult trumpet part in Bach's Second Brandenburg
Concerto. They have now largely been superseded by the piccolo Bb.
The G trumpet is preferred as a
baroque instrument by players who want the tone and feel of an
instrument larger than the piccolo. The G combines a timbre more like
the D trumpet with some of the playing advantages of the piccolo.
THE PICCOLO TRUMPET
Of all the high trumpets, the
piccolo Bb/A is the most widely used today. This is due to the extensive
development of these instruments over the past two decades.
Trumpeters first used the piccolo Bb more or less exclusively for the
Second Brandenburg Concerto and for other Baroque parts that did not
require the written low C of the D trumpet. Since this note is beyond
the compass of the three-valve piccolo and figures in a number of
scores, the piccolo's use was fairly limited. D or G trumpets were
normally used for these parts. With the addition of a fourth valve,
which extended the range of the piccolo downward a perfect fourth, works
such as Bach's Christmas Oratorio and Handel's Messiah began to be
performed on the piccolo. It was soon found that if the piccolo Bb were
lengthened to A (by extending the mouthpipe), parts written for the D
trumpet could be played in the key signature of F, a more fluent and
responsive key than the Bb piccolo's E major:
Bach, B Minor Mass
players soon began to use the piccolo for non-Baroque passages, such as
Ravel's Bolero and Stravinsky's Petrouchka and Rite of Spring. At the
same time, the piccolo was brought into prominence by artists like
Adolph Scherbaum and Maurice Andre'. Most recently, the piccolo is
enjoying widespread popularity in the film and recording fields.
The fourth valve adds five notes
to the player's range below the limit of the three-valve piccolo. A
by-product is a number of alternate fingerings to improve intonation.
The sharp 1-2-3 and 1-3 combinations can be improved by using 2-4 and 4,
respectively, a procedure normally used on four-valve euphoniums and
tubas. There are other options throughout the piccolo's range.
As stated earlier, the piccolo
trumpet does not automatically bestow high range. What
it does do is bring these notes down into the trumpet's most stable and
accurate register by raising the fundamental. While comparable skill is
required in performing in the upper register from one instrument to
another, the piccolo trumpet offers the player the acoustical advantage
of producing these notes in the instrument's middle range, providing
greater control and security.
The choice of a mouthpiece for
the piccolo trumpet is highly individual. Some players use their
standard mouthpiece for all the high trumpets, while others change to a
smaller cup depth and rim diameter. Screw-rim mouthpieces are often
used, which allow the player to retain the same rim while altering cup,
throat, or backbore.
A variety of piccolo designs are
available; the best way of selecting one is trying a number of
instruments. Certain instruments will work better for individual players
than others. Schilke has recently introduced a new four-valve piccolo in
C. Several advantages are claimed for this instrument, but it is too
early to assess
how widely it
will be adopted.
ROTARY VALVE TRUMPETS
There is increased use of rotary
valve trumpets in American orchestras (see Fig. 3.2). This has come
about in response to the desire for a more authentic and homogeneous
sound in the 19th-century Germanic repertoire. While the rotary valve
trumpet is less flexible in technical passages, it possesses a darker,
more resonant timbre which is ideal in the works of Beethoven, Brahms,
Bruckner, Strauss, and others. Also, these instruments have a greater
capacity to blend with woodwinds and strings and at the same time
produce a larger volume of tone in forte passages.
The rotary valve trumpet followed
a separate line of development and The rotary valve trumpet followed a
separate line of development and has been used as the primary
instrument in central European orchestras for over a century.
Piston valve instruments, on the other hand, were centered in France and
England, and from there came to the United States. Today, rotary valve
trumpets can be heard with great distinction in the Vienna Philharmonic
and Berlin Philharmonic, as well as major orchestras in this country.
Although the cylindrical bore of
the rotary valve trumpet is slightly smaller than its piston valve
counterpart, the leadpipe and bell are decidedly larger. The instrument
is designed with a wider pattern to avoid sharp curves in the tubing.
5. See Vincent
Cichowicz, The Piccolo BC-A Trumpet. available from the Selmer Co.;
David Hickman, The Piccolo Trumpet (Denver, Cole.: Tromba, 1973); Roger
Sherman, The Trumpeter's Handbook (Athens, Ohio: Accura Music, 1979);
Gerald Webster, Piccolo Trumpet Method (Nashville, Tenn., Brass Press,
piccolo mouthpieces are the Schilke 14A4a, 13A4a, 13A4c, 11A, or 1IX;
the Each 7D or the wide-rim 7DW, 7E, 7EW, and 10-1/2C. Each offers a 117
backbore for piccolo mouthpieces. The receivers of some piccolo trumpets
are designed to accept a cornet shank while others take the normal
trumpet shank. Cornet mouthpieces are often preferred and can be
used with an adapter on models requiring a trumpet shank.
These factors, combined with the
less resistant rotary valves, create the impression of a much larger
instrument requiring greater air support.
There are two basic designs of
rotary valve trumpet and although they appear similar, they have
different proportions and tonal characteristics. One type is made by the
Cologne firm of Josef Monke. Several others follow the style of
instrument perfected by F.A. Heckel (and later, Windisch) of Dresden.
Lechner (Bischofshofen), Canter (Munich), and Yamaha (Hamamatsu) fall
into this category. Instruments are built in all of the standard keys.
Leading American players who
frequently use rotary valve trumpets are Adolph Herseth (Chicago
Symphony) and Charles Schlueter (Boston Symphony). In Europe, Adolf
Holler (Vienna Philharmonic), Konradin Groth and Martin Kretzer (Berlin
PhiIharmonic) play the instrument exclusively.
There has been a remarkable
resurgence of interest in the cornet in recent years. Most of the
major manufacturers have developed new lines or traditional short they
are being revived in bands to lend authenticity to repertoire
originally written for them (see Fig. 3.3). Conductors are interested in
achieving an authentic sonority in such works as Gustav Hoist's suites
for military band and Ralph Vaughan Williams's Toccatta Marziale. Brass
bands are enjoying rising popularity in the United States, and this
constitutes a developing market for high-quality cornets. In orchestras,
cornets are being used more frequently when specified by the composer.
In the past, these parts were usually played on trumpets, thus negating
the effect of contrasting tone color between cornets and trumpets which
was intended by Berlioz, Franck, and others.
There should be a significant difference
in tone and style between trumpet and cornet. Genuine cornet tone is
darker and mellower than the clear, ringing trumpet timbre and should be
colored with an expressive vibrato. Such a timbre can only be achieved
through the use of a mouthpiece with a distinctly deeper and more
conical cup. Trumpet players often use the same mouthpiece with a
smaller shank when performing on the cornet, thereby losing much of the
contrast inherent in the two instruments. The only traditional cornet
mouthpieces available in the United States are the Denis Wick models,
which were designed in collaboration with leading British cornetists. In
the Each range, only the 5A approaches the requisite cup depth.
For a number of years,
"long-model" cornets have been produced by most manufacturers.
These are constructed in more of a trumpet pattern and omit the
traditional "shepherd's crook" of the bell section. The
changes unfortunately affect the timbre, which is closer to the trumpet
than the cornet.
The cornet is at its best in melodic
passages where its soft, voice-like tone can be uncommonly expressive.
Another asset is its extraordinary agility, which surpasses that of the
trumpet. The best way to form a concept of genuine cornet tone and style
is to seek out recordings of the many superb British brass bands. These
bands have an unbroken performance tradition reaching back to the 19th
century and have maintained their style independent of the influence of
the trumpet and modern orchestral brass playing. Another excellent
source is Salvation Army brass bands where a premium is placed on
melodic expression. Of particular interest is a recording produced by
the International Trumpet Guild of performances of the legendary Herbert
L. Clarke dating from 1904 to 1921 (Crystal S450). cornets are
also made in Eb and are used exclusively in brass bands. The Eb cornet
is the highest voice of the brass band and is an important solo
part. Cornets are occasionally made in C, but are rare today.
THE TRUMPETS IN USE
With the wide range of trumpets available,
it might be helpful to know which instruments are needed by players in
various situations. Students should have little need for any instrument
beyond the Bb trumpet or cornet unless they aspire to major in trumpet
on the college or conservatory level. In such cases, four trumpets will
be needed: Bb, C, EC/D, and piccolo BC/A. Professional symphonic players
usually have several instruments of each type, with individual
instruments offering different playing qualities. In addition, the
professional might own several rotary valve trumpets, a G trumpet, Bb
cornet, and a flugelhorn. Jazz and studio players generally prefer a Bb
trumpet of lighter weight than the orchestral instrument, and also have
available a flugelhorn and possibly a piccolo trumpet.
It is worthwhile for conductors of high
school and college bands to make available a set of cornets for loan,
when desired. Similarly, conductors of school and youth orchestras
should have a few C trumpets available.
with Intonation, Transposition, Mutes